MATTESON, Ill. (CBS) — The Village of Matteson has filed a lawsuit, seeking to have the Lincoln Mall shut down, because the village claims it is too dangerous.
The village has asked a Cook County judge to order the mall closed immediately, and to appoint an independent receiver to oversee rehab work.
“We want to get the mall back to what we all know how it used to be many years ago,” Matteson village administrator Brian Mitchell said Wednesday.
Attorneys for the village said Lincoln Mall failed several building and fire inspections over the past two years.
“If there was a fire, and people were trying to get out, there are situations in which exits lead to dead ends, or barricaded doors,” village attorney Tony Licata said.
Photos provided by the village showed crumbling façade, a padlocked and sealed emergency exit, dismantled sprinkler pipes, and unfinished demolition work of a former Montgomery Ward’s building, which closed in 1999.
Other dangerous conditions cited by the village include an eroding foundation, crumbling roof, and exposed wiring.
Village officials said 24 safety violations were filed against the mall in September 2011, as the mall was going through bankruptcy.
When the mall was sold in June 2012, the new owner took legal responsibility for fixing the various code violations, but has made no improvements since then, according to the village.
Licata said Michael Kohan, the New York man who bought the mall for $150,000, won’t even come up with a plan to fix the violations.
Kohan declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday morning.
The only part of the mall the village is not seeking to close is the Carson Pirie Scott store, which the village said is the only safe structure at the mall.
The mall now sits half empty, and last month inspectors determined none of the previous code violations had been fixed, and several more were found, including missing or blocked exit signs, and vacant sections left unlocked, according to the village.